Joe Lolley has been tied to a new long-term contract at Nottingham Forest, but who will be next?

The Reds revealed on Thursday, in a statement on the club’s official website, that fresh terms had been agreed with one key man.

An extension for Lolley came somewhat out of the blue, but had apparently been in the pipeline for some time.

Martin O’Neill revealed that discussions had been opened with a man attracting unwelcome interest from afar prior to his appointment as manager.

The Northern Irishman tapped a ball over the line which was already heading in.

O’Neill said in the Nottingham Post: “The Lolley situation was already being done before I arrived. But I would have been the first to verify that in Joe Lolley’s case.

“There are other players here at the football club who we certainly think have a future.

“And you are hopeful that, at some stage or another, this club will get promotion – and that it will be in my time.

“You hope that players like this; these younger players have a big part to play in that.”

Pressed on whether he would like more deals to be done, O’Neill said: “It would be nice.”

That it would.

Surprise discussions

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Arvin Appiah has committed his future to the club through to 2023 at the age of 18.

Eight years his senior, Lolley has done likewise.

So, where do talks head next?

Of those due to be out of contract this summer, it would be a surprise if discussions were held with any.

Jamie Ward, Stephen Henderson and Juan Fuentes appear destined to move on.

Attention can, therefore, be shifted to those approaching the final 12 months of their current deals.

There are plenty that fall into that category.

Not all that many, though, that you would expect to be taking a call from Messrs O’Neill and Keane any time soon.

Question marks

The fact that interest was fended off in Ben Osborn during the January window, coupled with the versatility he brings to the Forest squad, could put him in contention for fresh terms.

Jack Robinson has also offered enough in his debut campaign to suggest that he would be worth keeping around long-term.

The same goes for Claudio Yacob, who has already taken the captaincy under O’Neill so is clearly rated by the Reds boss.

Question marks linger over the others with a little under 18 months left.

Michael Dawson has shown his class when fit, but is already 35 years of age and not getting any younger.

Ditto Daryl Murphy.

Ben Watson is another approaching his mid-30s, along with Adlene Guedioura, while Liam Bridcutt, Karim Ansarifard and Luke Steele have seen little football of late.

Finally in this section, Yohan Benalouane and Alexander Milosevic only arrived in January and have plenty to prove.

Looking further ahead, the likes of Matty Cash, Tendayi Darikwa and Costel Pantilimon will see their contracts come to a close in 2021, but there is plenty of time to address those agreements at a later date.

It would appear then that Osborn, Robinson and Yacob are the most likely candidates to be next at the negotiating table.

Forest have clearly had their priorities in order so far, with key men for the present and future retained, and it now remains to be seen who is third on the list.

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